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Graduate Students Being Warned Away From Leaked Cables 685

Posted by timothy
from the we're-checking-your-history dept.
IamTheRealMike writes "The US State Department has started to warn potential recruits from universities not to read leaked cables, lest it jeopardize their chances of getting a job. They're also showing warnings to troops who access news websites and the Library of Congress and Department of Education have blocked WikiLeaks on their own networks. Quite what happens when these employees go home is an open question." Update: 12/04 17:48 GMT by T : The friendly warning to students specifically cautioned them not to comment online or otherwise indicate that they'd read any of the leaked information; reading them quietly wasn't specifically named as a deal-breaker.
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Graduate Students Being Warned Away From Leaked Cables

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  • Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigSes (1623417) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:03PM (#34439416)
    Honestly, if there is nothing to hide, why all the panic? Its like... Well, I'd think of an analogy but I'm hungry.
  • Next step.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcl (680528) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:04PM (#34439436)

    Seems like the cables might be a good excuse to implement full legal media censorship.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by immakiku (777365) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:07PM (#34439474)
    That's not a valid line of rationale with regards to privacy issues. Why should that be used now?
  • by Swanktastic (109747) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:07PM (#34439484)

    The email (from an alum acting in a non-official role) warns not to make posts about this on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It didn't say "Don't read them." It's really nowhere near as crazy or interesting as the submitter wishes it were.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:10PM (#34439514)

    Probably because governments should be held accountable for their actions by their citizens and not the opposite?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:11PM (#34439516)

    > I saw a weird Outer Limits

    Isn't that kind of the point? :/

  • by Starteck81 (917280) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:11PM (#34439522)

    "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. "

    Seriously treat the problem, don't go shooting the messenger.

    That's not even shooting the messenger. That's shooting the recipient.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:11PM (#34439524) Journal

    Because the government has tried to use it on us many times - throwing it back at them is just a way of helping to show their hypocrisy.

  • Well, kind of (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:12PM (#34439528)

    Before we all blow up, the warning was from one alum to their alma mater, and was suggesting not to post links to cables and WL on facebook, twitter, etc. because "engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government" which, honestly, is pretty reasonable. If the State Department is deciding between equally-qualified five candidates, and three have indicated they sympathize with WL, well then the choice is down to two. Just like companies looking at your pictures on facebook before hiring. It sucks but it's true - be responsible with what you say about yourself.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:12PM (#34439532)

    Worse yet, floating the idea you can be barred from future jobs because you read something is ridiculous.

    Nothing but a scare tactic.

    These are the bastards that should be losing their jobs, not for anything in the leaks, (nothing there that I can see except gossip), but rather for being so loose with data they seem to value so highly.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:14PM (#34439552) Journal

    Even if there is something to hide (and let's face it, there always will be - that's not necessarily a bad thing), it surprises me that the government wants their potential employees to be less informed than the general public. The cat is out of the bag, surely it makes more sense to inform oneself as much as possible rather than looking for the earplugs and humming loudly.

  • They are deliberately seeking out uncurious and deliberately ignorant people to work for them, as being uncurious and maintaining deliberate ignorance is considered a sign of loyalty.

    When you deliberately avoid the best and brightest because you don't trust them to be loyal to you, and deliberately make your institutions stupid, you are a dead country walking.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameMaster (148118) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:17PM (#34439576)

    The law is clear regarding illegal search and seizure. The idea of a right to privacy only goes one way. Citizens have a right to privacy from the government. The government has no inherent right to privacy from the citizens. In fact, you could argue that it's impossible to have a truly functional democracy without the citizens having a clear idea of what their government is really doing. If I'm kept in the dark about the details of important actions committed by my government, what hope do I have to ever make a truly informed decision when it comes time to vote?

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:23PM (#34439662)

    Individual agents still deserve privacy, just not for things connected to their work. The public has no need to know who/what some low level bureaucrat is sleeping with, but it does need to know who/what a bible-thumping politician is sleeping with, since their morals (or lack thereof) are the main part of their job.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:24PM (#34439672) Homepage
    Probably because the US Government, of the people, for the people, and by the people, has no reasonable expectation of privacy. The 4th Amendment protects us from the government, not the government from us.
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:26PM (#34439686) Homepage Journal

    Worse yet, floating the idea you can be barred from future jobs because you read something is ridiculous.

    Worse, they're warning people away from the only body of information that could tell them anything useful about the practical aspects of their future job.

    "We will only hire you if you demonstrate the ability to ignore overwhelming evidence that the world is not as we say it is."

    (Actually, given the US Government's performance recently, that statement is starting to make sense....)

  • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:27PM (#34439700)
    What the hell, I have karma to burn.

    On top of what you said, even though I support Wikileaks' release of the cables, the State Department's rationale makes perfect sense to me: if you go posting these (still considered classified) documents all over your friends' walls, what does that say about your ability to handle classified information? Even if you don't believe in the State Department's right to keep secrets- and again, I'm not saying I do- from their point of view they do, and so for them to hire someone demonstrating a casual disregard for data secrecy would just be stupid.

    In other words, no, it's not the Thought Police, it's responsible hiring. Stand down from Red Alert, Number One.
  • by topham (32406) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:31PM (#34439748) Homepage

    Just keep shoving the toothpaste back into the tube

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:36PM (#34439780) Homepage

    ""As crazy as the investigations can get, coupled with the government's ability to dredge through your online presence over the years, it's common-sense to not go around spouting off about things that the government is obviously going to be sensitive about if you ever expect to work for them in a sensitive role at some point in the future."

    It sound like to CIA, FBI and friends won't be around for much longer, since there is probably not a potential young adult in the US who hasn't been tweeting and posting plenty of stuff they themselves will be embarrassed by in a few years. (obviously I am being facetious; they aren't going to go away, but they will have to evolve and change their criteria to survive)

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:36PM (#34439786) Homepage

    There are a lot of fucked up places in the world. Your might not be the worst of them, but as of lately it's far from ideal.

    People used to be very proud of that America is the "Land of the Free", not that "It's better than North Korea". If that's what it's supposed to be, why do you keep trying to divert the attention by pointing to some hole like North Korea? Shouldn't you be working tirelessly to uphold that ideal, no matter how much shittier some other place might be?

    You're in the US (I assume from your message), and you're in the position to make it less fucked up. So your dirty laundry suddenly got exposed. Don't whine about people noticing the stains, don't point to your neighbour's, but do the proper thing and clean it up.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kiwimate (458274) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:42PM (#34439842) Journal

    I'm not sure quite why this got marked insightful.

    Isn't the whole point that the government is contending there is something to hide, hence the big fuss? Look at it for a moment from the government's point of view:

    • there is something to hide
    • therefore the exposure of these cables into a public arena is a big problem
    • therefore from their point of view if you want to get a job with them (possibly being exposed to secrets) and it gets turned up that you deliberately went about accessing these documents then it's going to look unwise on your part.

    From that point of view, it seems a fairly judicious warning to float to someone who may be interested in such a sensitive position.

  • by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:43PM (#34439858)
    Is it just me, or are all the actions being taken by all governments involved in this whole thing doing a fabulous job of driving home the very point that Julian Assange is trying to make?
  • PRCesque (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knapper_tech (813569) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:54PM (#34439968)
    I don't want to live in China. Whether wikileaks is good, bad, right, wrong, or ugly, if we endorse the self-protectionist nature of the PRC govornment domestically and internationally, if we deny the truth in intellectualism in our graduate schools, then we have ourselves fearfully denied the truth of human nature to seek improvement through understanding and expansion through creativity.

    That societies and the global community will have difficulty digesting the recent events does not mean that we shouldn't learn to cope with what is merely a more true revelation of where our mutual interests exist and where our relationships are perhaps thinner than we believe ourselves capable of addressing.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:58PM (#34439994)

    if you go posting these (still considered classified) documents all over your friends' walls, what does that say about your ability to handle classified information?

    Nothing at all, actually:

    1. Graduate students are not under orders to keep government secrets secret.
    2. The information was already released by someone else, there is no secret to keep.
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aldenissin (976329) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:02PM (#34440026)

    A person is not what they say, it is what they do. (Although speech is an action too.) No one is perfect. No one. I believe in forgiveness therefore. Someone making a mistake, whether it is sleeping with someone when they claim it is immoral, or fudging their taxes in the past even though they want to work for the government is human. But at some point, they show they completely do not want to practice what they preach, and that is when it should matter.

  • by Aldenissin (976329) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:05PM (#34440056)

    If there really is an immediate risk to life, then it was probably built on the wrong foundation to start with if it requires secrecy. While maintaining said secrecy may save a life or few, what is the long term cost? Could it very likely cause more harm or death?

  • by bmearns (1691628) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:06PM (#34440060)
    Sounds a lot like the Church of Scientology's warnings against it's low level parishoners against listening to leaked CoS documents, lest it corrupt their unconditioned minds.
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:16PM (#34440182)

    How can the public forgive, if they don't know about a candidate's actions?

  • by fishexe (168879) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:26PM (#34440264) Homepage

    "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. "

    Seriously treat the problem, don't go shooting the messenger.

    Can we shoot the guy who uses Star Wars quotes indiscriminately?

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neotokyo (465238) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:38PM (#34440342)

    Don't disagree that good character, to the best of your ability to judge is a good idea, but the whole point of elected officials and transparency is that those in power have demonstrated time and time again that we just can't trust them. The US constitution was written to enshrine this idea. We don't have to trust officials because we're in control and demand accountability through elections.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:46PM (#34440396) Homepage

    You haven't seen anything yet.

    We are only in the first phase of the greatest depression of all time.

    For something this big to come around, it is going to come in many stages and will take years to fulfill itself.

    You still have time to prepare, but time is running out. Once the new world war starts it will be too late.

    But by that time, the US will be under unimaginable Tyranny because everyone here is asleep.

    You won't be able to go to the street corner without your balls/breast being squeezed with an M16 pointing at you.

    Maybe people will wake up by then, but it will be too late anyway.

    -Hack

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday December 03, 2010 @10:04PM (#34440518)
    Your analogies don't work with this situation. Wikileaks isn't posting war plans, they aren't posting technical details of bombs and jet planes. They are simply posting details about past things that the mainstream press conveniently "forgot" to tell us. This isn't about disclosing D-Day information, this is about the government lying to us. It is about putting the information in the hands of citizens about the war so we can make informed votes over if it is worth it to continue.
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Friday December 03, 2010 @10:13PM (#34440578) Homepage Journal

    "We will only hire you if you demonstrate the ability to ignore overwhelming evidence that the world is not as we say it is."

    No, they're saying they won't hire you if you re-post the information. Why doesn't that make sense?

    Because it's in the New York fucking Times and the Guardian and Der Spiegel, for starters.

    This is asking people to pretend that the single greatest upheaval in the diplomatic world in decades simply doesn't exist. It's not a job requirement; it's a test of faith for future regime cadres.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Trinn (523103) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Friday December 03, 2010 @11:12PM (#34440900)

    I have to agree with most of what you said, but I take serious issue with your attack on UI benefits, which invariably stimulate spending and work to keep people from falling entirely out of the system while the economy recovers (as opposed to tax cuts for the rich which just cost the govt money it could be using to serve the people, same as all these acts of war...)

    If this country had Basic Income then none of this would be important of course, but the US Federal Govt and most if not all state governments would rather let some 10-25% (depending on who you ask) of the country end up jobless, penniless and homeless (let alone having no access to any health-care, which is *still* a huge problem despite the claims of those who pushed the latest bills through) through no fault of their own. (Remember, UI benefits are only paid out to those who lost their job through no fault of their own, these are not benefits paid to those who are fired for cause or (usually) those who simply quit).

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trinn (523103) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Friday December 03, 2010 @11:13PM (#34440904)

    Oh, I should add, direct election of senators is not the problem. Gerrymandering and *lack* of direct election for representatives on the other hand is a *serious* problem

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Friday December 03, 2010 @11:42PM (#34441074) Homepage Journal

    And they can't just I dunno REFRAIN FROM POSTING IT ON FACEBOOK? Why is that so hard?

    Because it's akin to asking prospective sports writers not to discuss the Black Socks scandal. It's like a company suggesting that prospective employees should refuse to discuss gaping, publicly acknowledged holes in their software, in spite of the blatant inapplicability of security through obscurity to the situation.

    They are saying, in effect, 'How can we trust you not to discuss secret things if you don't follow the arbitrary -and in this case, illogical- ruleset that we choose to blindly impose because, in spite of volumes of evidence to the contrary, this is the way we know to be the right one.'

    This particular instruction is a test of faith, nothing more.

    Yes, this is a case of asking people to adhere to the rules. The problem is that, in this case, application of the rule serves no useful purpose other than to demonstrate the coercive force of the regime.

    (And yes, there is a place for security through obscurity, but that only works when actual obscurity has been maintained.)

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday December 04, 2010 @12:19AM (#34441240) Homepage Journal

    Gerrymandering and *lack* of direct election for representatives on the other hand is a *serious* problem

    But not as serious a problem as the dysfunctional way we finance election campaigns, which insures the influence of the largest donors on policy.

    Then, all you have to do is spend a few hundred million on ads convincing people that if they just smash themselves in the head with a hammer it will make everything better.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @12:37AM (#34441304)

    That's funny because my sister in law personally knows three different people who have been on "Obamaployment" for over a year with absolutely no interest in getting a job. Ya, that system is clearly not an utter disaster. Great insight!

    Look, a few months for people who are hard on their luck, okay, I'll concede that. But years for a guy who got fired from KFC to get paid more than he did at KFC just to lie about applying at the KFC he got laid off from? That's just plain ridiculous.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trinn (523103) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @12:56AM (#34441386)

    said so-called "leech class" would actually be more accurately described as a combination of a large artistic/creative class, and a large class of DIY-minded individuals, who if they were ensured their basic needs would happily work to improve their own surroundings. Want mega-engineering projects? Well, when workers cost $0, you can pull off a *lot*.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @01:23AM (#34441504)

    Graduate students should also refrain from visiting foreign countries, lest their patriotism be questioned... especially countries like China, ...and Canada. Those 'C' ones are the worst.

    They should refrain from visiting Vegas for a weekend of recreational gambling lest their grasp of statistics and good judgment is called into question.

    And they should stay the hell out of churches... lest their loyalties be questioned... Are they working for their boss or for church elders/pope/...

    And they should make damned sure they go to church every sunday to help reaffirm that they have good morals, and have faith in God.

    You are right of course, that if the person reviewing you cares about any such nonsense its good advice. Its still asinine though.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @01:28AM (#34441522) Journal

    Bravo sir. There was a time in our Republic's history that the State Department and War Department were required to explain their actions and budget to the people and the several states. The people elected the Representatives and the states, jealous of their right to govern, elected Senators.

    But today we have a Department of Defense and direct election of Senators. No one serves the interests of the local governments, but instead all elected officials have exclusively the short term interests of their constituents in mind. There is no concern for preserving the long term interests of the Republic, but rather voting the people demand bread and circuses. (Long term unemployment benefits?)

    The impotent fury, bordering on paroxysm, of the United States' response to the released cables is astounding and concerning. It has become evident that in the 21st century, the people serve the government.

    You make an interesting point about the voting of bread and circuses by our government.

    Here is what de Toqueville said would be the end of our republic:

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

    . It's a fitting description of what is going on with increasing frequency and scope in our government for a long time. The Romans also fell into the same trap.

    Here's a very interesting read on what the Romans did: http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cjv14n2-7.html [cato.org]

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PyroMosh (287149) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @01:33AM (#34441552) Homepage

    Where do you get your info? Unemployment pay is tied as a percentage of your prior income. IIRC (and the particulars probably vary from state to state) in NJ it's 60% of the highest 12 consecutive months of the last 18 months before you initially filed. I know in NJ and PA the cap is just over $500 / wk. In Delaware, it's something like $300 / wk.

    I made just shy of $60K before I lost my job a couple years ago. When I collected unemployment, it went down to about a rate of $25K /yr. I was able to live off of that, and pay my bills, sure. But what if I wasn't making that much before I lost my job? If I was making $30K (which lots of people get by on, and I know I could if I had to), then unemployment would have been $350 / wk. That wouldn't pay my rent and electric. Let alone, cable, phone, car payment, etc. Some of those things I could cut back on, but it's not easy even to cut back. How do you back out of a lease? How do you back out of a car payment? How do you get rid of internet and do an effective job search today? If you do back out of a car payment, how do you get to interviews, or land a job that you'd have to commute to? These are all solvable problems, but every one makes the problem more difficult.

    People that say the modest safety net keeps people from working are disillusion. Maybe there are some people out there, but a few oddballs that are happy living off of $10K a year are hardly the norm. Unless there are some states with RADICALLY different unemployment rules. But I hardly think many states would be more liberal than NJ. Can anyone point to a state where the benefits are so radically better that it would be *desirable* to be on unemployment?

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:37AM (#34442102) Homepage

    Incidentally, there's a fine Russian word for a hierarchical system of representation, in which smaller governmental bodies choose representatives to the national government: "Soviet." Yeah, that sure helped protect the liberties of the people and the long-term interests of the republic, didn't it?

    Null argument. The official name of East Germany was (after translation) The German Democratic Republic. Does that mean that there's a problem with democracy? Or republics? Or just that names chosen for propaganda reasons are bunk and what matters is what happens on the ground? Hmm...

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:43AM (#34442116)

    Incidentally, there's a fine Russian word for a hierarchical system of representation, in which smaller governmental bodies choose representatives to the national government: "Soviet." Yeah, that sure helped protect the liberties of the people and the long-term interests of the republic, didn't it?

    Actually if the bolsheviks had heeded their own slogan 'all power to the soviets' instead of arrogating all power to themselves and forming a dictatorial central government (the exact opposite of the tradition of village soviets) they might have ended up with a system closer to that used in western democracies. So I don't think conflating the original meaning of soviet (local gov) and the perversion/inversion of the idea by the later Leninist and Stalinist regimes is useful for this discussion. It certainly doesn't provide any indication of whether local gov works better than centralised - if anything the soviet experience is proof that large central governments typically ossify into dictatorship.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sFurbo (1361249) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:51AM (#34442138)
    This is not what happens. I live in Denmark, where people in general is not in danger of starving or being homeless. This does not make people more active, creative or interested in improving their own surroundings. In general, humans are lazy, and if their basic needs are met without them needing to do anything, most will not do anything. And then there is the artistic class, which, when the state pays them, seems to be more interested in pointing fingers at how bad the average citizen is then with actually improving anything.
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by t2t10 (1909766) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:30AM (#34442420)

    In the US, unemployment benefits are based on what you used to earn???

    They are in most of the world.

    What the Hell is the rationale for that?

    One rationale is that it is unemployment insurance that you paid for, and you pay for it proportionally to what you earn. Benefits beyond your unemployment insurance are then generally just a fixed amount.

    A second rationale is that unemployment is supposedly something short term and you don't want to force people to dismantle their lives, in particular while you want them to go out looking for a new job. Selling your home, moving to a new place, even just selling off your investments itself takes time and if you're forced to do it on short notice, costs a lot of money.

    In the UK, you are means tested. If you have savings over a large amount, (around £16,000), then you're expected to start using that.

    Well, the UK is just full of bad ideas when it comes to social policies, isn't it?

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mallydobb (1785726) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:48AM (#34442484) Homepage

    The Senate was supposed to be a voice for the State in Washington, not a voice for the people. The House represents the common folk like you and me while the Senate, if it worked as it was planned, gives representation to the State itself. How can Mexico, Russia, and France have a direct line to the Federal government but Virginia, New Mexico, and Wyoming don't? The system is broken for many reasons, one of which is direct election of the Senate.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:59AM (#34443288)

    Incidentally, there's a fine Russian word for a hierarchical system of representation, in which smaller governmental bodies choose representatives to the national government: "Soviet." Yeah, that sure helped protect the liberties of the people and the long-term interests of the republic, didn't it?

    To put it bluntly: yes, it did. You are comparing Soviet Russia to a western democracy, but you should be comparing it to what preceded it: Tsarist Russia, a dictatorship which finally collapsed utterly in World War One. That Russia rose from those ruins to be the second most powerful nation in the world is nothing short miraculous.

    This rises an interesting question: if communism was tried in a country with long and firmly-rooted democratic traditions, rather than collapsed dictatorships, what would happen? What happens when you combine a planned economy with the First Amendment?

    Seeing how most revolutions are triggered by economic collapse, I suspect that we shall soon see.

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